Match of the Day / Match of Nations


It's not fair! I have to work 32 hr shifts and study for the final exam, while you guys are having too much fun on Paperlate. Specifically, I am referring to the latest "off the topic" yet highly entertaining exchanges on this list about soccer vs. American football, UK vs. US (probably the thread should be renamed "Pearl Harbor part II"), and last but not least, hilarious blunders along the way courtesy of a couple of German members. First Jeff was accused of being an American, then Joe was asked to explain British humor. I laughed so hard I nearly choked. The next thing you know someone will probably think that Christina is Canadian and I am from Brazil! I know some people have already objected to these non-G discussions, but I can't resist the temptation to comment on them below, so if you read on please consider yourself forewarned.

For me it is no contest between football/soccer and American football. I have long been a big fan of soccer and have been closely following each World Cup since when I was in grade school in China. In case you didn't know, China as a nation is rather obsessed about football, although you may
not expect this considering the pathetic showing of our national football team over the years. Let's just say the Chinese men's team makes the Americans seem like the Wonder Boys. The "Asian powerhouse" South Koreans routinely kick our ass and dash our hopes of ever qualifying for the World Cup. Nevertheless my schoolmates and I used to be glued to the TV sets watching Columbia vs. Brazil, or Italy vs. Ireland, etc., and not surprisingly every team seemed amazing comparing to our own. Of course we all had our favorites and there were endless debates. But one thing we did agree on was that Maradona was the biggest cheater we had ever seen. We would also argue about the relative strengths of each team and make our bets on who the winner would be. One time a bunch of us agreed that the person who won the bet would be allowed to pluck one hair off everyone else's head! Ah, those were the days! :) Anyway, to make a long story short, it becomes much harder to find soccer on TV after I came to the US. All people care about here is American football, a sport that I find lacking in speed and grace.  All the padding maybe protective, but to me it is quite distracting and even a little cartoonish. So I must say I would watch English Premier League or Italian Serie A (albeit on Spanish-speaking cable channels) over the Super Bowl any day. As for those who suggest that soccer is somehow low-impact or less macho than American football, I have to disagree. I remember this gruff-looking EPL player who continued to play for a long time with a bandage around his head and fresh blood seeping through. My head started to ache just watching him run with that laceration and imagining how much it must hurt.

During the current reincarnation of the US vs. UK thread, someone mentioned that US could not have lost W.W.II because of its sheer size. I just want to say that:

1) size is not to be confused with strength (e.g., the demise of the former Soviet Union), and
2) size alone won't protect you from foreign invasion (e.g., the last 2 centuries in Chinese history).

Moreover, US is a relatively young nation that has fortunately been relatively free of hard times in its 200 yr history, consequently its national character leans toward optimism and confidence. All is well and good, but it is important to remember that many other nations have been world powers in the past, yet a few centuries or even decades were all it took for the mighty to fall. So while it is understandable and desirable to take pride in one's own country and culture, it would be unwise to assume invulnerability and superiority, both of which can breed arrogance which impedes progress and may lead to decline. Therefore IMO what the history books have taught us repeatedly is to recognize our limitations while recognizing the strength of other nations. Sorry, that sounded way too
preachy, I shall stop my rumblings now.

Carry on with all that fun,



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